Young Roar fall short

Brisbane Roar Youth's tough season on the road continued despite a battling performance in Gosford, beaten 4-3 by a Nik Mrdja-inspired Central Coast Mariners outfit.

Brisbane Roar Youth's tough season on the road continued despite a battling performance in Gosford, beaten 4-3 by a Nik Mrdja-inspired Central Coast Mariners outfit.

Brisbane started positively, looking to split the Central Coast defensive line early.

However the away team were nearly undone eight minutes into the contest when Nik Mrdja used his strength and experience to release Nicholas Fitzgerald, but the midfielder curled his shot wide of Matt Acton-s goal.

Isaka Cernak was the first to unleash on the Mariners- goal when he shot from outside of the box, but again the goalkeeper was not required to make a save.

Bob Malcolm was next to go close after 24 minutes when he got on the end of a Luke Brattan corner, but he couldn-t quite steer his effort on target.

The Mariners took the lead though a minute later from a corner at the other end.

Brisbane-s defensive clearance fell to Matthew Crowell, who dummied Stefan Vrbesic before unleashing an unstoppable volley from outside the box.

The Roar didn-t drop their heads, however, and Vrbesic looked to pounce on some poor control by Central Coast goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.

Redmayne made a mess of controlling a regulation backpass and the Roar midfielder closed him down but the block went out for a goal-kick instead of a goal.

It didn-t take long for Brisbane to draw level though as Luke Brattan was released into the box by Ken Dougall and he took the opportunity with relish.

As has been the story of the season however, Brisbane conceded shortly after scoring, this time Mrdja created a chance for himself and made no mistake with only Acton to beat.

Some average defending in stoppage time at the end of the half allowed Brady Smith to pick a spot with a volley from the edge of the box to all but end the contest.

Brisbane started the second half brightly despite the setback before half-time with Andrew Packer hitting the bar inside the first minute of the second stanza.

Packer was involved in Brisbane-s second goal when he crossed to Vrbesic who beat the defence before crossing for Ken Dougall to slot past Redmayne.

Acton then had to be at his best to get a fingertip to the ball as a rampaging Mrdja bore down on the Brisbane goal.

The Mariners continued to pressure the Brisbane goal, but Acton had the measure of the attacks directed at him.

However, the young keeper could do nothing on 65 minutes as Mrdja smashed a free kick from outside the box into the top corner.

Both sides looked to push on in the closing stages of the match and in stoppage time at the end of the half Vrbesic netted a consolation goal, comfortably converting an Alistair Quinn cross from close range.

Central Coast Mariners 4 (Matt Crowell 25-, Nik Mrdja 37-, 65-, Brady Smith 45-+2) Brisbane Roar 3 (Luke Brattan 35-, Ken Dougall 53-, Stefan Vrbesic 90+3) Saturday, 19 December 2009 Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Referee: Stuart WOLFE

Central Coast Mariners line-up: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK)(20 Mathew RYAN (GK) 80'), 2. Nathan SHERLOCK, 3. Jerry KALOURIS, 5. Luka DUKIC (4. Matthew LIDDALL60'), 6. Emmanuel GIANNAROS, 8. Nicholas FITZGERALD, 10. Panagiotis NIKAS (capt), 11. Michael MALLIA (9. Gavin FORBES 60'), 12. Matthew CROWELL (OA)(7. Brendan GRIFFIN 60'), 14. Brady SMITH, 18. NIK MRDJA (OA).

Substitutes not used: Nil

Yellow cards: Luka DUKIC (17-), Brady Smith (49-), Matthew Crowell (53-)

Red cards: Nil

Brisbane Roar line-up: 1. Matt ACTON, 3. Alistair QUINN, 4. Andrew PACKER (OA), 5. Daniel BOWLES (capt) (2. Matthew BYRNE 49'), 7. Luke BRATTAN (6. Daniel TESORO36-), 10. Stefan VRBESIC, 12. Kenneth DOUGALL, 13. Isaka CERNAK, 14. Bob MALCOLM (OA), 15. Antony SCHIAVO (9. Michael RYAN 46-), 16. Matt MUNDY (OA)

Substitutes not used: 20. Luke MUIR (GK)

Yellow cards: Luke Brattan (26-)

Red cards: Nil